Application for acquittal or pardon
In 2001, a group of people
consisting of, among othera members of The Wilkes Playmakers, and Ken Welborn,
publisher of The Record of Wilkes, issued a statement, supported by signatures from people
in the local area, that "acquitted Tom of all charges." The declaration was
unofficial and had of course no legal consequence.
The group had submitted an application to the governor about getting Tom
acquitted. This application referred to among other things, an alledged
letter from Judge Buxton to Judge Shipp, in which Buxton are supposed to have
had asked Shipp to exclude certain testimonies to secure a conviction.
Unfortunately I have not been able to find evidence of such a letter myself, but
if it is correct, it is in itself enough reason that Tom should have been acquitted.
The group also listed other things, such as conflicting testimony, that
Pauline's testimony was not credible, etc., and that the circumstantial evidence
was in general not sufficient to convict Tom of murder, in which I agree
completely. However, one can only be acquitted by the same court by which you have
been convicted, and this would mean, that to acquit Tom, the case would have had
to go to court in Iredell County once more.
The group therefore altered the application to be an application for a
posthumous pardon instead of an acquittal, although it is recognized that a
pardon will not relieve Tom of the guilt, as a pardon doesn't acquit but forgive
a crime. In 2002 the application was submitted to the governor along with 130
pages of documentation. In January 2009, just before he resigned as governor,
the then governor of North Carolina, Mike Easley, rejected to pardon Tom Dooley.
He gave no reason, and when The Recorder approached the law firm who had been
responsible for the application in order to hear the explanation, the lawyers
could only answer that the governor never justified his decisions in clemency
proceedings, whether the result was a pardon or a rejection.
The group is now considering a renewed application to the new governor, Beverly
Perdue, but has apparently not submitted one yet. In the eyes of the law Tom
Dooley is still guilty and hasd not been pardoned for his sins. Sins I don't
think he actually comitted.
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